Final practice - Red Bull close in on Rosberg 21 Apr 2012
Nico Rosberg maintained the status quo for Mercedes by setting the fastest lap in Saturday mornings final practice session at Sakhir, but this time the Red Bulls weren't far behind.
The Chinese Grand Prix winner lapped in 1m 33.254s, a time which Sebastian Vettel failed to beat by just 0.147s as he went round in 1m 33.401s. Mark Webber was third on 1m 33.663s chased by Lewis Hamilton (whom the Red Bulls displaced in the closing minutes) on 1m 33.782s, Michael Schumacher on 1m 33.796s, Jenson Button on 1m 33.899s and Kimi Raikkonen on 1m 33.976s.
Just as it was yesterday, the track was tricky, not just because of the ever-present sand that can get blown on to it, but by changes on wind direction.
Daniel Ricciardo sprung a surprise for Toro Rosso with eighth place on 1m 34.197s, which placed him ahead of Romain Grosjean in the second Lotus (1m 34.401s), Fernando Alonso in the lead Ferrari (1m 34.895s), Pastor Maldonado in the lead Williams (1m 34.918s) and Jean-Eric Vergne in the second Toro Rosso on 1m 34.977s.
The bad news for Williams and Maldonado is that the Venezuelan needed a gearbox change overnight, and thus will get a five-place grid penalty.
Sergio Perez was 13th for Sauber on 1m 35.067s, with team mate Kamui Kobayashi dogging him on 1m 35.128s. Force ndia were back in action, though Paul di Resta had to be content with only 15th place on 1m 35.336s as team mate Nico Hulkenberg languished in 19th on 1m 35.773s. Felipe Massa's trouble continued with 16th place and 1m 35.536s ahead of Bruno Senna in the second Williams on 1m 35.623s and Heikki Kovalainen in the improving Caterham on 1m 35.694s.
Behind Hulkenberg, Vitaly Petrov lapped in 1m 36.532s to head the Marsussias of Charles Pic and Timo Glock on 1m 37.267s and 1m 37.654s respectively. Pedro de la Rosa didn't get as close to them as he did yesterday afternoon, taking his HRT round in 1m 38.973s, as Narain Karthikeyan brought up the field with 1m 39.221s in the sister car.
So practice is over, and now everyone prepares for qualifying. Rosberg starts favourite for pole, but behind him the likely order is too tight to predict.
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